Our day started before dawn. The air was thin and cold from the altitude. When the team arrived at the clinic in San Francisco el Alto, the waiting crowd burst into applause. They were bundled and cold, but greeted the team with warm smiles. Many started their day in the middle of the night to assure their place in line. The women were in their finest traditional dress to show respect to the medical providers.
This region presents real challenges for the Faith In Practice team. Hope for relief from ailments runs high among the patients but the prognosis may be hard for them to comprehend, or treatments may be too elusive due to time and travel.
Like the rest of the hundreds of other patients, Catarina arrived early in the morning. She lives in San Francisco el Alto. A young single mother with two adopted children, she manages on her own without the safety net of family. Despite living her entire life with a poorly developed right foot, she manages to feed her small family by cleaning houses and selling embroidery at the local market. Catarina came in seeking only a new walking cane. When the team explained they could refer her to the hospital in Antigua for a life-changing corrective surgery on her foot, she was hesitant. Leaving the village and her only familiar surroundings can be daunting and scary for some, and the time needed prohibiting.
Dr. Hilary was delighted when she learned her young office patient is from the area we are now serving. The young man came to California seeking opportunity to help his family back home. Back home his brother Marlon was in need of medical care for his 3-year-old son Marlon Jr. who did not speak, eat or stand properly. Dr. Hilary was happy to help arrange a visit to our clinic during our stay but sometimes the news of the prognosis is hard to hear. Marlon Jr. will never be ok. He probably has Cerebral Palsy. Still, the Faith In Practice team assisted the young parents with compassion, offering ways to make little Marlon’s life easier including a hearing test, nutrition advice and physical therapy training for the parents.
Fran, a Faith In Practice volunteer, decided to leave the field of education and start a second career in the field of medical care. She especially wanted to make a difference in women’s health care. Faith In Practice provided her with the opportunity. During this mission, Fran is tackling the overwhelming issue of diabetes and hypertension. There is much to teach the local population regarding proper nutrition and how to live with the disease. Many patients arrive looking for a prescription drug believing the bottle of pills will rid them of the ailment. They may stop taking the medication when they run out of the pills provided, choosing to provide for their family over buying more of the drug. Fran provides education and guidance to help improve their quality of living with better lifestyle choices .
Sometimes Faith In Practice can help patients in ways they don’t expect. And though a network of caregivers and providers, Faith In Practice also finds solutions outside the organization when a unique challenge arises.
You can help too. Please keep these volunteers in your prayers and if you can, donate to this worthy cause. Medical professionals donate their time and pay their own way on these missions, but there is still a need for supply’s and medications.